This is a continuation of a two part series on setting aside time to have a more formal discussion with members of your family. With the distraction of electronics or other hobbies, real communication has been neglected. To counteract this, it becomes necessary to set aside time and to find out more about your wife and children. This should not feel like an uncomfortable job interview or interrogation, but an opportunity for them to feel comfortable to share with you things that would otherwise be held back. So, do you best to make it an enjoyable experience for everyone involved. If it is something they are telling you in confidence, keep it so. Hardly anything loses the confidence than loose lips.
- Full family meeting
- Husband and Wife
- One on one with child
- Two on one with child
While your family situation may vary from mine, these can be modified to suit your needs. The important thing is to ensure that regular, honest conversation is happening. It is so easy to let molehills grow into mountains if annoyances are allowed to fester. Whatever you decide on is best, but the main idea is to facilitate open and honest conversation in order to encourage each other to help solve each other’s problems.
One on One with Child
For several weeks now, I made it a goal to spend at least an hour of one-on-one time with one of my kids each week and rotate though. So, I take advantage of this time and take my two year old son on a walk with me to the Post Office while the older kids are busy with school work. I find his shoes, get him dressed, put on a coat that is 3-4 sizes too big for him, and we head out in the cool and damp fall weather.
My youngest is only saying a few words at this point, but as we walk along, we stop to admire a cow that is mooing at us. When we get to the sidewalk, we walk hand in hand and he takes his time checking out every little detail as we go down the road. I see a few passersby driving down the road crack a smile as we are checking out this lawn ornament on the way. Eventually, we go slower and slower until I give up and hoist him on my shoulders to go get the mail. Not much is said, but I can really tell he is enjoying the time we are spending together.
Last week, was similar, except this time, I go on a short hike with my 12 year old daughter. There is a hill not a mile from my house, with a monument on the top. Along the way, I ask her how her new school is going. She says fine, but she isn’t making any new friends yet. I proceed to give her some pointers and advice that I think she could use. She mentions this one boy that wants to be friends with her, and I go a little bit into the birds and the bees, nothing involved though. I just mention she is getting to the age that boys and girls are starting to get attracted to each other, and she may notice some changes in her body. Overall, it was a very enjoyable experience, and she would say the same. We raced up the hill, and I beat her. I don’t know how much longer that will last though. Old man is getting older.
If anything, else, this one on one time is a time to really bond with one of your kids. That strong relationship is so valuable when the storms of life come.
Two on One with Child
While we really haven’t participated in this, you may consider doing a monthly meeting with your kids. There have been occasions in the past where we had a pressing matter that we will keep one of the kids up late and discuss with them. Some questions you may ask are:
What has mad you happy this week?
Have you been struggling with anything?
Has anyone done anything super nice for you this week?
How can we help you feel loved and important this week?
Hopefully, some of these questions will get them to open up and discuss their lives a bit. As my kids are getting into their teenage years, I can see how this could prove extremely valuable.
As we continue to strengthen our relationships through effective communication, we will better know how to help members in our family and to reduce the likelihood of divorce or child estrangement. When all is said and done, those relationships are most important.